Friday March 13,2015 : GAMBLING SLUMP IN MACAU MAY CONTINUE
Corruption and extravagance clampdown in China is influencing wealthy Chinese mindset.
This week saw the market capitalisation of the major land gambling companies in Macau fall below the $88.5 billion benchmark, with revenues declining as a result of a slowdown in China's economy and the influence on the mindset of China's wealthier classes of the severe corruption and extravagance clampdown by the government.
That's remarkable because it is the first time companies have recorded this low a number since Chinese leader Xi Jinping took power in November 2012. Market capitalisation boomed upward to a peak of $198 billion following his ascendency, only to plunge southwards as his drive against corruption became a reality in January last year.
That brings us to the present, where market capitalisation of the big six firms is pretty much back where it was when the Chinese leader assumed command of the nation.
Analysts are now less optimistic that the crackdown is but a temporary interlude, albeit one that has slashed $111 billion off the companies' valuations, and there is uncertainty as to how long it is likely to continue, or whether there is now the possibility of permanent damage to Macau's gambling industry.
Nine months of steeply declining revenues have done little to brighten the picture.
This week business news agency Bloomberg quoted its head of Asian business intelligence, Tim Craighead, who said:
"Beijing’s anti-corruption push spurred an anti-extravagance mindset among wealthy Chinese that are core to Macau’s VIP business, and this may be here to stay.”
Adding to the jitters of an already nervous market, the Beijing News reported this week that the Chinese director for its Liaison Office, one Li Gang, has revealed that Macau's gambling industry is cooperating with the central government in its anti-graft drive.
The newspaper quoted Li Gang as saying:
“As the crackdown on graft is stepped up, some corrupt officials – including executives of some state-owned enterprises – now dare not go to Macau to gamble. Moreover, because of measures taken by Macau’s gambling industry, if such officials do gamble in Macau they will be discovered.”
The official went on to suggest now might be the right time put in place an extradition treaty between China's central government and the government of the Macau special administrative region, tightening further the enforcement bonds between the two administrations.
“It’s necessary for both sides to strengthen co-operation in this field," Li Gang said. "Once any criminal flees to Macau with money, the Macau authorities could repatriate so as to jointly crack down on crimes. So far, there is a discussion mechanism in place between Macau and the Mainland but there is not any repatriation agreement, which should be sealed as soon as possible.”